Disclaimer: If you’re hunting for the number of grams or degrees of articulation in a SCARPA ski boot review, this article isn’t for you. If you care about how ski boots perform across a variety of conditions and uses when put to the test, then keep reading.
I do not weigh equipment or have the plastic blends memorized. I went to a Liberal Arts College and the engineering of gear neither interests nor excites me. That said, I usually spend 150-180 days a year in ski boots as a ski guide, ski patroller and avalanche educator by profession. My days off are spent on skis trying to keep up with my wife, dragging my two year old around in a chariot, trying to be a rando racer without really being a rando racer, climbing mountains and skiing down them. With enough “hard love,” the spiritual connection between my aching feet and the Italian injection molded footwear becomes communicable.
Do You Need a Ski Boot Quiver?
If your ski touring career is in infancy, don’t stress about having more than one pair of ski boots. But as the pursuit grows on you, consider trying to build a quiver. Ski boots, like most tools, are becoming very specialized. If we pair the right tool with the correct objective, this translates into a better experience for us: the users! Additionally, I find having a quiver spreads the use and abuse out; ultimately increasing the life of each boot. I guess boots need rest days too?
I am fortunate to be lucky in love and rich in ski boots. My current quiver includes the SCARPA Freedom RS, Maestrale RS and the F1.
SCARPA Freedom RS
The SCARPA Freedom RS are the stiffest boots I’ve ever owned (note – I wasn’t a ski racer). When I first got them, I had to consciously under power my turns or I would end up facing uphill! Now that I am used to them, they command my respect and are my go to boot for resort and mechanical days. They are sturdy, burly and able to keep up with ski patrol abuse. I like the interchangeable soles and appreciate the reliable releasability of a DIN alpine sole.
I have not done long tours in these boots but regularly use them for boot packs and shorter “out the gate” objectives. As someone who may be called in for a rescue, having a comfortable and reliable option for uphill travel is a necessity. These boots, coupled with a stiff ski, will have you believing you are skiing alpine with the option of going uphill.
SCARPA Maestrale RS
The SCARPA Maestrale RS touring ski boots are my soulmates. I find them predictable and their flex playful. They are reliable partners and diverse in application. If you are to have a one-boot quiver, this is the one. From expeditions in Alaska to daily powder chasing, this is my go-to boot. They are warm enough to stand around digging snow pits or winter camping objectives, yet nimble enough for scratchy talus climbing.
If you prefer a stiffer boot, consider replacing the tongue liner with wrap style. And to add even more stiffness or extend the life of a tired pair, consider adding an aftermarket power strap; both options come at a small cost of weight.
I treat the ultralight SCARPA F-1 as somewhat of a specialty boot in my quiver. While these are my go to for fast and light objectives, they actually ski surprisingly well. The wide range of articulation in walk mode makes them comfortable for long days, climbing, riding bikes and even driving a standard!
At an extremely light weight, these are great for spring and summer objectives which require long approaches and boots to be on your pack. My words of caution with this boot are they can be cold. This is not the boot you want to stand around in under normal mid-winter conditions. Further, because the liner is thinner, use caution when you are heat-molding the liners as over tightening boots during this process will compress the liner too much.
Making the Decision Easy
To aid your decision making on which boot to pull from the closet I have created this handy matrix for you. The key? Don’t over think it! Happy feet means happy skiing!
Written by Jake Gaventa, AMGA-Certified Single Pitch Instructor, Wilderness EMT, Wilderness First Responder, Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association, AIARE Level 1&2 certified, AIARE Level 1 instructor and successful completion of AMGA rock and ski guide courses.
Follow Jake on Instagram using handle @jakegaventa